MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - It's now a ship without a captain. Superintendent John Aitken is stepping down as head of Shelby County Schools.
On Tuesday night, the Unified School Board approved Atkins's request to buy out the rest of his contract. It was set to expire in 2015.
After the meeting, Aitken said the request was purely personal, and that it was time for him and his family to focus on the next chapter. Atkins's buyout is similar to the one given to former Memphis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash, who resigned in January.
Atkins' deal means that effective immediately, he is no longer superintendent. He'll continue to advise the board through the end of the school year. Aitken says the board's hiring of a consulting firm, and the ongoing nationwide search for someone to head a new Unified School Board, didn't factor into his decision.
Aitken, choking up at times, said he didn't know what he'll do next. He declined to speculate if he would be interested in any possible openings should the municipalities start their own school districts.